A HIGHLY OVERRATED ART FILM
I originally reviewed Boyhood on AM REVIEWS. Due to my inexperience with Fair Use law at the time and Universal sending me relentless copyright claims, I removed the video. I have no other copy of the video and I don’t know if it’s on another site somewhere. So instead of making another video and delaying my upload schedule any further, I thought I could review the film this way.
Boyhood is a critically acclaimed indie art film that was nominated for numerous awards. It’s a film about a young boy growing up in modern USA and we literally watch him grow and develop before our eyes. It was filmed over twelve years before it’s completion. Now this film will soon be a part of The Criterion Collection. Maybe I have to review it soon then. The film won many of its nominations, including Best Film at some. It’s even being regarded as the best film of this era.
Although there is some impressive filmmaking with Boyhood, I didn’t find it all that amazing.
Yes, Boyhood is on some level impressive. They picked and choose the right things for our characters to attach to and it’s great how they predicted what would be nostalgic to people who see this film when it releases in twelve years. It would be really interesting to know how they picked these items.
The acting for the most part is pretty great. The best actor by far is Patricia Arquette. She shines on-screen as Mason’s mother. Patricia Arquette delivers lines and interprets the character so well that I can’t imagine anyone else playing here. Ethan Hawke was also pretty great. The others… Well, we’ll get to that later.
Cinematography and music choices were also well done. The music they choose highlighted the way Mason’s feeling amazingly well and fit the years they were played. The music highlighted scenes more and fit very well. The cinematography was pretty well framed and cleverly shot to represent Mason.
With all of this said, Boyhood still has many, many flaws.
Other than Mason’s original parents, the other characters are pretty flat including Mason himself. Mason is supposed to be the lead character that we’re supposed to know the most. He’s the character that we’re supposed to relate to and love. However, he’s a very clichéd and poorly developed character. You would think after watching someone grow for 12 years, you’d know them more than anyone or have a good idea of their character. Mason is perhaps the only exception to this. Mason is a generic bland wannabe deep poser. He takes himself and his thoughts WAY too seriously. He has many scenes where he goes off into these long metaphorical and speech scenes where he talks about himself. All while having a whole thinking to himself “I’m so deep”. His speeches are nothing more than pretentious and the most generic life speeches you will ever hear. Even if he wasn’t such an annoying hipster, there’s no other character traits to him. All I know is that he likes photography, he’s very self-reflective, and he has a go with the flow attitude. There are many scenes where we see him interact with things that could develop his character but they’re tossed to the side once they’re shown. He goes to see Harry Potter, plays video games, etc. but they are immediately disregarded and never mentioned again. Mason is just a blank slate that spews these generic speeches and takes himself too seriously. Also, he’s not that hard of a character to portray. So if our lead is blank slate, you know you failed as a screen writer.
The other cast and characters are pretty bland and bad. Mason’s sister is pretty bland and she’s a terrible actress. Her scenes are also the ones that really drag out the film. Mason’s girlfriend in the film is also pretty bland but not that bad of an actress. Mason also has a lot of friends and they’re probably the worst actors in the entire film. There’s a scene where they’re all sitting around in an abandoned house (I think) and they have no chemistry or any sense of realism to their line delivery.
The most “developed” characters are even worse than bland ones. At least the bland ones are easy to attach yourself because they’re so bland, but when the film’s developed characters are frustrating. The first man Mason’s mom marries is, of course, bad/worse than his father. He’s abusive, an alcoholic, etc. It’s not it was developed or something triggered this to happen, he’s just a bad guy out of nowhere. The next man she marries is better and actually a good actor, but they still want us to hate him. There’s a scene where Mason is out all night, he gets yelled at because they were worried sick, and we’re supposed to hate him? Yes, be mad at the concerning parent. They pull it off like Mason can do no wrong and every other character is imperfect.
Mason’s parents were the only people who were actually interesting and very relatable too. They were the only glimmer of light within our collection of characters. Mason’s mom is so developed and well portrayed that she flies off the screen. Mason’s dad has a few clichés, but overall he’s a well-developed and portrayed character. If the other characters were as developed or as interesting as these two, then I wouldn’t be so frustrated. But in a film that’s being praised for its characters and the film is a character study, it’s hard not to grade them so seriously on this section.
The plot is basically following Mason as he grows up. Again, it’s interesting to see what was going on in the word while certain scenes were shot and how those scenes reflect that time, but it’s not enough to make up for the lack of developed characters or the messy plot. There’s nothing really significant or interesting going on with Mason. He just wonders life unsure what to do. Perhaps this is some genius reflection of Mason during the times. Since Mason is unsure and lost, so is the plot. I bet that’s exactly what the writers think they’re making (rolls eyes).
There are some amazing filming techniques within Boyhood, but if we have to look beyond it’s nothing more than a shallow and missed opportunity. This could have been a film where we see a character develop before our eyes. It would have been amazing to learn who Mason really is and how he’s responding to thee world around him. But we just got a boring and bland film with barely any redeeming qualities.
Boyhood has many impressive filming techniques but it’s not enough to make up for it’s terrible character development and poor plot structure.
Boyhood: 5/10, C